Repairs to two windows at a south Norfolk round tower church have been completed.
There’s further reason for celebration in the parish because a former incumbent of St Mary’s, Tasburgh, has been appointed Bishop of Thetford.
A former chartered surveyor, the Ven Ian Bishop, who is currently Archdeacon at Macclesfield, Cheshire, will be formally ordained at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, September 29.
He came to Norfolk after his curacy in Southwark, London, in the mid-1990s serving Saxlingham Nethergate and Shotesham. After a pastoral organisation, he became rector of the Tas Valley ministry of the parishes of Tasburgh, Tharston, Saxlingham Nethergate, Shotesham and Newton Flotman, between 1998 and 2001.
Fabric officer Willie Crawshay said that repairs to the chancel window been carried out by south Norfolk-based glaziers, Devlin Plummer. The south-facing chancel window at St Mary’s, had become so fragile that it was extremely vulnerable to any weather event.
“Our chancel window is now restored to its former glory and – rather more importantly – is now secure and no longer at risk of sudden collapse in a winter gale.
“The work was carried out by Devlin Plummer to a very high standard with minimal disruption to the activities of the church. We could not be more pleased with the results,” said Mr Crawshay.
There had also been anxiety about a broken stone mullion in the east-facing altar window of the 14th century chancel. This has also been repaired.
Mr Crawshay wrote on behalf of the parochial church council to thank the Society for “generous financial support” of a £5,000 grant.
Furthermore, the PCC said that the grant application was very easy and the Society advanced funds in advance of the work being carried out, which eased cash flow headaches.
He also thanked the Norfolk Churches Trust, which had provided a £2,000 contribution towards the overall cost.
Mr Crawshay said that it was hoped that the Rt Rev Ian Bishop could return to his former church before too long.
A service of welcome for Bishop Ian will be held at Norwich Cathedral on Sunday, September 30 at 5.30pm.
The existing chancel is thought to date from the late 14th century – and the nave from a similar period. However, the nave walls were raised when taller windows were inserted in the 1400s.
The guide book also hints at a surprising continental connection – the inclusion of small pieces of stone, dark bubbly-textured lava stone into the church walls. These remnants of querns (small mill stones for grinding corn by hand) probably came from what is now the German Rhineland. It is estimated there are some 30 quern pieces built into the walls.
St Mary’s dates from the 11th century, probably between 1050 and 1100. The tower (except the top three metres) may date from this period.